KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The proceeds from a new craft beer aims to create greater diversity and accessibility in the craft beer industry.
It's through a collaboration of over a dozen breweries.
With fewer than 70 black-owned breweries in the United States, the proceeds from Saugatuck Brewing Company's "Black is Beautiful" American Stout will create a pipeline for diversity in brewing and brewery ownership.
"It all started with Weathered Souls. They spearheaded this whole campaign," said Saugatuck Brewing Company's Sales Director for Michigan and Ohio Michael Biddick.
Back in 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Marcus Baskerville, the head brewer and co-owner at Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas created "Black is Beautiful". He was hoping to emphasize the need for greater diversity in the craft beer industry.
"They reached out to us and said ‘Hey do you want to be a part of this?’ We said absolutely," said Biddick.
Saugatuck Brewing Company is one of the 13 craft breweries in the United States supporting the initiative, brewing their own batches of "Black is Beautiful" and supplying it to a combined 600+ Walmart stores in 21 states.
"“Black is Beautiful” — they kind of set you up with a recipe. We used it as a guide and tweaked it a little bit determining on what we could get in that time frame as far as ingredients and all that stuff," said Biddick. "It’s a little bit of a twist on theirs. Theirs is an imperial style. Ours is a straightforward American Stout, kind of roasty, toasty, smooth, dark and delicious beer," he said.
A portion of the proceeds from the beer will go to the Harriett Baskerville Incubation Program, named after Marcus' grandmother, who herself was a prohibition-era brewing pioneer. The program provides opportunities for minorities and women, traditionally underrepresented in the brewing industry, by creating access to brewing education, guest seminars, practices, as well as helping minority entrepreneurs who don't yet have the financial means to open a brick-and-mortar location.
"It’s to help the minorities in the brewing world, kind of give them a platform to grow into this business. They’re doing A to Z in the school as well as women," said Biddick. "Both are underrepresented in this community of brewing," he said.
The "Black is Beautiful" stout will be available in participating Walmart stores and Saugatuck Brewing Co. brewpubs through April 30.